Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide


Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide

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Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide

Learn how to use native plants to help our native ecosystems survive and flourish, while beautifying your garden or rural property. For gardeners, and those wanting to restore the indigenous environment, we provide practical advice on selecting plants which are ecologically appropriate for your area.

The guide is now available in book form ($9.95) from some bookstores or garden centres. 

Download the Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide

How to use this guide

Check the interactive map  or the navigation menu on the left to find the ecological zone for your garden. Each zone page has a list of suburbs and place names to help confirm that you are at the right zone. They also have background information about the general weather patterns, geology and soils, and past vegetation.

The plants on each zone page are organised in their botanical categories; trees, shrubs, climbers, ferns etc. We have used their botanical name only where we needed to be more specific. The plants recommended on your zone page are only a few of the many that are appropriate for that zone. For a wider selection see the main plant list.

If you want to learn more about planning your garden, why native plants are a good choice and where to go for your plants, read on.

New Zealand 's unique, indigenous flora

At least 84% of New Zealand indigenous plant species are endemic, which means that they are naturally occurring, nowhere else in the world. This makes them very special, in fact, globally significant. In the Wellington region alone 90 native vascular plant species are threatened; they need our help.

We have recommended over 30 of these threatened species as suitable for gardens or shelter belts. Look for this symbol Th in the main plant list. Gardening with native plants provides a natural insurance policy for them, and for the ecosystems of which they are a part.

Your garden and indigenous ecosystems

Te katoa o nga mea tukupu e mau hono takapiri ana: all things are connected.

Ecosystems are living associations of plants, animals and other organisms such as fungi that interact with one another and with their surrounding environment. Scientific information and local knowledge confirm that many of our region’s indigenous ecosystems are deteriorating. If you choose to grow appropriate native plants in your garden you will strengthen the links that hold indigenous ecosystems together, helping to reverse this widespread decline in our natural heritage.

All the plants recommended in this guide are appropriate for the Wellington region. For example we recommend the endangered Wellington shrub Muehlenbeckia astonii, shrubby tororaro, for planting in the Wellington region but not in regions further north. This is because it was never found naturally occurring north of Wellington region.

On the other hand pohutukawa, Metrosideros excelsa, is an example of a tree that is not appropriate for Wellington because its natural, geographic range extends only as far south as the volcanic plateau. For that reason you will not find pohutukawa recommended in this guide. Instead we recommend its close relative northern rata, Metrosideros robusta.

Why use native plants?

Plant species that are native to an area have particular ecosystem advantages:

  • They are genetically adapted to local conditions and soils and are therefore likely to perform better. They blend ecologically and aesthetically with the local, natural, landscape. The "Wellington look".
  • Their seeds help maintain the integrity of the local gene pool and the sustainability of local ecosystems.
  • They are more likely to be compatible with local invertebrate populations.


More and more people are taking care to use only plants which are eco-sourced. This means that they are grown from seed from local, wild populations. For example Coprosma repens, the common taupata species that grows naturally around the Wellington coastline, is the same species as the Auckland taupata. However, it is subtly different because it has evolved to withstand Wellington conditions. We suggest that you check with your local nursery whether the plants that you are buying are locally sourced.

Note: Only people who have a permit from the local or regional authority or the Department of Conservation are allowed to collect seed from native plants on public land. No native plants should be removed from the wild.

Using this guide will help you:

  • Feel confident about using native species.
  • Enjoy contributing to fostering the region’s indigenous ecological diversity.
  • Choose native plants suited to the ecological conditions in your area.
  • Select native plants that encourage native birds to visit your property.
  • Appreciate the role your garden plays in the local ecology.

Zone names

  • Western Inland Hill Country
  • Eastern Wairarapa Foothills
  • Nikau Belt
  • Northern Wairarapa
  • Otaki-Waikanae Alluvial Terraces
  • East Wairarapa Dry Hill Country
  • Hutt & Wainuiomata
  • Southern Wairarapa Plains
  • Rocky Coastal Zone
  • Central Wairarapa Plains
  • Duneland
  • Inland Wairarapa Hill Country
  • Inland Wellington - Porirua
  • Wet Areas
  • Pauatahanui - Porirua Harbour